J IS FOR JAPAN
Japan has played a major role in the toy industry globally. At one point in time Japan was a major source of toy production (going back to the 1970s). Following the decline of toy sourcing from Japan as the economy soared and brought Japan to the forefront of the global economy heading into the 1980s, Japan built into one of the major toy markets of the world. For a long time, Japan was 2nd in size only to the U.S. market, before being overtaken by China a few years back. Japan is still today though the 3rd biggest toy market in the world, which is surprising to some people as most ‘Western’ toy companies spend so little time looking at Japan. Japan is so culturally different versus other markets that it can be quite confusing for companies looking to sell their products into Japan, but nevertheless the sales potential is significant if you can find a way to enter the market!
The other major contribution by Japan to the global toy industry is the wave of animation and product concepts which keep on coming out of Japan’s quirky companies. From Tamagotchi to Takara Tomy, and from Pokémon to Power Rangers, Japan has been a major contributor to kids’ entertainment content and toy development. Pokémon of course is one of the biggest toy franchises ever, and with Hasbro acquiring Power Rangers for around $500m there can be no doubting Japan is a good place for western toy companies to go hunting for opportunity.
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